Benefield: Kelseyville pitcher Noah Lyndall keeps cool in real-life emergency
On April 15 Kelseyville pitcher Noah Lyndall did the nearly impossible, he notched a win and a save on the same night.
The senior right hander pitched a two-hitter in Kelseyville’s 11-1 North Coast League I win against Fort Bragg to get a win.
So how did he record a save?
It happened like this: After the win, the Lyndall family, Noah’s mom, dad and two younger brothers, were traveling in two vehicles after stopping for a postgame dinner. When they were on Highway 20 near Lake Mendocino at around 9:30 p.m. they were very nearly involved in a high speed crash after being passed by three vehicles that seemed to be racing.
“Three cars, they had to be going over 80, they were flying behind us,” Lyndall said.
And then, after some jostling between the vehicles, one well and truly went flying.
“It shot up the embankment probably 35 or 40 feet, maybe even 50 feet, straight up the mountain,” Lyndall said. “Once they got to the top, the car flips, probably four flips. My mom is screaming at the top of her lungs. Halfway down, a body flies out of the car. The back rear window blew out and he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
“It was super violent,” he said. “He lands face down on the ground.”
Now comes the save portion of the story.
Lyndall, who is carrying a 4.1 grade point average over four years, wants to be a doctor. To that end, he has completed two medical education programs - one at the University of California at Berkeley and an advanced program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in two separate summers during high school.
“I got to see a live surgery which was awesome,” he said.
At Johns Hopkins he got a glimpse of emergency situations.
“We were in the trauma center in Maryland for a couple of hours. Crazy stuff,” he said.
So Lyndall knew a bit about crazy. And what happened that night seemed a little crazy.
“The part that hit me the most was when the car was actually flipping. That put a picture in my head. I’ll never forget it,” he said.
As he rushed to the 16-year-old Ukiah boy lying in the slow lane of Highway 20, Lyndall’s mom called 911 and his dad tried to slow traffic. The two other occupants of the crashed car took off running, but not before trying to drag their unconscious friend away, Lyndall said.
“Those two kids come screaming,” he said. “My reaction is, ‘Your friend is almost dead. Shut up.’ He’s asking me to take them down the hill. Then they start running down the hill.”The CHP is still investigating.
“He was mangled. He landed face down,” he said. “The car almost rolled down on top of him. The car was on its top.”
Lyndall ran to a piece of a dislodged door and dragged it to the boy to help prop him up. He then grabbed a sweatshirt. He rolled the boy onto his back and cushioned his head on the side with fewer lacerations.
At first the boy was unconscious. Lyndall was not sure he was alive. He checked both his wrist and neck until he found a faint pulse. Then the boy came to.
“He just started screaming. The poor kid was in so much pain. His face, the noise,” he said. “His head is just covered in blood, you couldn’t see the color of his hair. At that point, I’m just happy he’s alive. My whole thought is ‘Keep this kid alive until the paramedics get here.’?”
He did. Lyndall stayed with the boy and talked to him, keeping him from trying to bolt.
“I was the one freaking out,” Lyndall’s dad, Mike, said. “He was going, ‘Dad, it’s OK.’ He was the calm one.”
Lyndall’s presence and his demeanor could have saved the kid from a worse fate, according to officials.
“Him being there probably helped save that kid from doing more damage,” CHP Officer Jake Slates said.
The boy was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He was diagnosed with a concussion and multiple lacerations.
The driver and other passenger in the vehicle fled the scene but were later identified by investigators, Slates said. Investigators are still trying to determine who was in the third car involved in the wreck.
No arrests have yet been made.
But meantime, all had high praise for Lyndall not least because he kept his head in a heady situation.
“He seems like a pretty outstanding kid,” Slates said.
That surprises no one who knows Lyndall.
He’s a bookworm who has excelled at football, basketball and baseball for the Knights until dropping basketball his junior season to focus on travel baseball.
He’s gifted but he’s a worker.
Baseball coach Lou Poloni calls him “a grinder.” He also called him “advanced.” Three times in our conversation, he used that word to describe Lyndall.
Poloni recalls a school reading challenge back when Lyndall was in the third or fourth grade. Not content to simply meet the target, he crushed it.
“He read like 200 books that summer,” Poloni said laughing.
“He sets really high goals for himself and he really pushes himself to achieve them,” he said.
“He definitely works his butt off,” he said.
That might explain the through the roof GPA and the academic and athletic scholarship he earned to Cal State East Bay that will cover his all of his expenses. And it might explain his goal to be a doctor but to play a little baseball en route.
Lyndall has the goods to do both.
He is 3-1 on the mound for the Knights, who are 6-0 in the North Coast League I. He is hitting a team-leading .500 with an .823 slugging percentage and putting in time at third and catcher as the Knights needs dictate.
“He’s definitely a leader,” Poloni said. “He does it the right way. He’s not a big yeller or screamer.”
Which means there was probably no better person to be a first responder to the accident scene that Friday night.
“Just as a parent, you are proud that your kid can focus and handle a situation like that and be mentally stable and strong,” Mike Lyndall said.
“He’s a good kid.”
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”